With only seven propositions to weigh in on this year, California voters will have the fewest ballot measures before them in more than a century. Still, there’s no shortage of fodder for spirited debate, and they will generate tens of millions of dollars in spending and countless campaign ads. Here’s everything voters need to know about California’s ballot propositions.
WHAT WOULD IT DO: Proposition 1 would amend the California Constitution to enshrine the fundamental right to reproductive freedom. That includes the right to choose to have an abortion and the right to choose or refuse contraceptives.
WHAT WOULD IT COST: Because these rights are already protected by state law, it is unlikely to have any financial impact, unless a court interpreted it as expanding the government’s obligation to pay for contraception and abortion procedures, which it already does for low-income residents.
WHY IT’S ON THE BALLOT: Though the right to privacy — which has been interpreted to cover abortion — is already guaranteed in the state Constitution, it is not explicitly defined. The U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade has raised fears that a change in legal interpretation or partisan control of the state Legislature could undermine those protections.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: Supporters argue by putting the right to abortion and contraceptives directly into the state Constitution, reproductive health care will always be a medical decision, not a political one.
WHO OPPOSES IT: Opponents say that Proposition 1 is unnecessary to protect reproductive rights but is written so broadly that it could face years of protracted court battles costing the state millions of dollars. They raise particular concern that the measure would override state regulations that now limit abortions after the point when a fetus is viable on its own. These late-term abortions are currently only legal if the health or life of the mother is threatened. Supporters say the measure does nothing to change that.
WHAT WOULD IT DO: Proposition 26 would allow tribal casinos and the state’s four horse race tracks to offer in-person sports betting. It would also allow tribal casinos to begin offering roulette and dice games, including craps. It taxes sports bets placed at horse race tracks. It doesn’t tax tribes, but it requires tribes to reimburse the state for the cost of regulating sports betting. The proposition also creates a new way of enforcing some gaming laws, allowing anyone to bring a lawsuit if they believe the laws are being violated and the state Justice Department declines to act. Any penalty and settlement money that results would go to the state.
WHAT WOULD IT COST: State analysts say the proposition could generate as much as tens of millions annually for the state. The revenue would first be spent on education spending commitments and regulatory costs. If there’s any money left over, it would go to the state’s discretionary fund, as well as to problem gaming and mental health research, and the enforcement of gaming rules.
WHY IT’S ON THE BALLOT: Tribes have long had the exclusive right to offer certain forms of gambling in California, but sports betting — besides horse racing — isn’t legal in California. Proposition 26 would allow in-person sports betting only at tribal casinos and horse race tracks.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: Supporters argue it will increase tribal self-sufficiency by bringing more business to tribal casinos, creating jobs and helping tribes pay for services like health care and education. Supporters also say it will protect against underage gambling and generate money for the state.
WHO OPPOSES IT: Opponents argue the new gaming law enforcement mechanism will be used by tribal casinos to sue competing card rooms and drive them out of business leading to lost jobs and tax revenue. Some casinos allow 18-year-olds to gamble, so opponents argue the initiative could lead young people to develop gambling addictions. They also argue it will revive the shrinking horse racing industry, which they say endangers horses.
WHAT WOULD IT DO: Proposition 27 would allow licensed tribes and gaming companies to offer mobile and online sports betting for adults 21 and older outside tribal lands. Gaming companies could only offer sports betting if they made a deal with a tribe and would create extremely high thresholds, making it all but impossible for smaller companies to compete. The proposition creates a new division within the state’s Justice Department to regulate online sports wagering and additional powers to address illegal sports betting.
WHAT WOULD IT COST: Tribes and gaming companies would pay fees and taxes to the state that could total several hundred million dollars a year, state analysts estimate. After covering the state’s new regulatory costs, most of the money would be used to address homelessness and for gambling addiction programs, while 15% would go to Native American tribes that aren’t involved in sports betting.
WHY IT’S ON THE BALLOT: Sports betting — other than on horse racing — isn’t legal in California. Proposition 27 would allow online sports betting across the state.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: Supporters say it would create a permanent source of funding to reduce homelessness and will allow every tribe to benefit — including tribes that decide not to offer sports betting.
WHO OPPOSES IT: Opponents say that it would turn every cellphone and computer into a gambling device and escalate the risks of underage and problem gambling. They also say it would drive business away from tribal casinos and threaten tribal sovereignty because tribes would have to give up some of their rights in order to offer sports betting. And they argue that most of the money would go to companies in other states.
WHAT WOULD IT DO: Proposition 28 would require the state to allocate at least 1% of Proposition 98 funding — money guaranteed for public schools and community colleges in the state budget — for music and arts education. Schools with high proportions of students from low-income households would get more funding. Districts will be required to spend 80% of the new funding on hiring instructors, and they will have to publish annual reports on how they spend the money.
WHAT WOULD IT COST: An estimated $1 billion to be set aside annually.
WHY IT’S ON THE BALLOT: State law requires instruction in visual and performing arts for grades 1-6. For grades 7-8, schools must offer arts classes either during or after school. High school students must take either a year of art, a foreign language or career and technical education to graduate.
When school district budgets are cut, arts and music programs are often the first to be downsized.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: Los Angeles Unified Superintendent Austin Beutner, who donated more than $4 million, and other supporters say that arts and music instruction could help address the mental health crisis facing youth as they recover from the pandemic. Other supporters include Hollywood stars and musicians and the proposition has strong support from teachers unions, as the arts funding is expected to generate jobs for educators.
WHO OPPOSES IT: No official opposition filed
WHAT WOULD IT DO: Proposition 29 would require kidney dialysis clinics to have at least one physician, nurse practitioner or physician assistant with six months of relevant experience available on-site or via telehealth. It requires that clinics report infection data to the state and publicly list physicians who have an ownership interest of 5% or more in a clinic. Proposition 29 also prohibits clinics from closing or reducing services without state approval and from refusing treatment based on insurance type.
WHAT WOULD IT COST: Not available
WHY IT’S ON THE BALLOT: This is the third time a labor union has gone after dialysis clinics via the ballot process. The union says it wants to reform the booming industry and increase transparency, while dialysis companies that spent millions to defeat the two prior measures say it’s a union ploy to pressure clinics and organize dialysis workers. There are about 650 dialysis clinics across the state and about 80,000 Californians receive the life-saving treatment. State analysts estimate that the clinics have total revenue of about $3.5 billion a year and that two private, for-profit companies own or operate three-fourths of the clinics.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: Supporters argue that dialysis companies do not invest enough in patient care and safety despite being highly profitable. The hours-long process leaves patients vulnerable to medical complications. Having a physician or nurse practitioner available at all times could help reduce hospitalizations. Meanwhile, adding reporting requirements would increase transparency.
WHO OPPOSES IT: Opponents say that this measure is unnecessary as clinics already provide quality care and have the needed staff to treat and monitor people. Patients may also reach their nephrologists via telemedicine if needed and clinics already report infection data to the federal government.
WHAT WOULD IT DO: Proposition 30 would impose a 1.75% personal income tax increase on Californians making more than $2 million a year to fund a suite of climate programs. 80% of the money would go toward rebates for zero-emission cars and more charging stations. Half of that funding will go to low- and middle-income residents and a quarter of the tax money would provide funding to hire and train firefighters.
WHAT WOULD IT COST: Between $3.5 billion to $5 billion annually, growing over time, according to state analysts. The tax would go into effect in January 2023 and would end by January 2043, or possibly earlier, if the state is able to slash its emissions to at least 80% below 1990 levels for three consecutive calendar years.
WHY IT’S ON THE BALLOT: California has made bold promises to cut emissions to 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 and achieve carbon neutrality by 2045, but transportation remains the largest source of the state’s planet-warming emissions. The state won’t be able to meet these goals if it can’t transition away from fossil fuels. At the same time, the state is increasingly facing more deadly and catastrophic wildfires, which contribute to air pollution, poor air quality and worse health outcomes for millions of residents.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: Supporters say Proposition 30 would generate much-needed funding to address the state’s two leading causes of air pollution: gasoline-powered vehicles and wildfires. The money would help accelerate the transition to electric vehicles, beef up the state’s charging infrastructure and provide more resources to firefighters, investments that will better put the state on track to meet its ambitious climate goals.
WHO OPPOSES IT: Opponents say that Proposition 30 is an unnecessary tax hike because everyone is feeling the effects of high inflation, surging gas prices, the exorbitant cost of living expenses, and some of the nation’s highest personal income taxes. Opponents argue the state could tap into the $97.5 billion budget surplus funds to pay for these ongoing programs.
WHAT WOULD IT DO: Proposition 31 will decide whether to overturn a 2020 law that prohibits the sale of some flavored tobacco products. A yes vote upholds the current law; a no vote would strike down the law and allow the sale of flavored tobacco products.
WHAT WOULD IT COST: The outcome of Proposition 31 would impact the state budget because if the law is upheld, the state could lose as much as $100 million in annual tobacco tax revenue from the sale of flavored tobacco.
WHY IT’S ON THE BALLOT: In 2020, the Legislature passed and Gov. Newsom signed a law to ban the sale of certain flavored tobacco products as well as menthol cigarettes, both in stores and in vending machines. The law was intended to keep flavored tobacco away from kids and teens, who report in high numbers that they often started smoking with a flavored product. The law has not gone into effect yet because tobacco companies funded and qualified this referendum.
WHO SUPPORTS IT: Supporters say the law prohibiting the sale of flavored tobacco products will protect youth because 80% of kids who use tobacco start with a flavored product. It would also prevent companies from targeting kids and teens with advertising and help lower smoking rates, especially among people of color, who experience higher rates of smoking-related illnesses.
WHO OPPOSES IT: Opponents say the ban is unnecessary because there are already laws on the books prohibiting the sale of all tobacco products to minors. They argue that banning flavored tobacco products infringes on the rights of adults who use the products and say a prohibition would increase underground markets and lead to more crime. They also say this law is discriminatory against adults who use flavored tobacco to help them quit smoking and especially against African Americans who favor menthol cigarettes.
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